Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ARMAMENTALES-Fábrica de Memorias (Sudamétrica, 2011)

Mustafá Yoda's Imaquinar was for many the best hip-hop album ever recorded in Argentina. And I'm not just saying this because I was close friends with the guy and came out from the same crew. Most of the critics would agree on this.
Armamentales' Fábrica de Memorias is a sequel of sorts to that 2008 classic, recorded by two of the finest disciples of Mustafá Yoda: Difuzor and PMO, and released under the same label.
Now, I've never met these guys, but listening to their debut album I feel as if did, because as I mentioned, we all came out from that same school of hip-hop militance that in the late nineties reshaped the underground scene of my hometown. So I totally understand where they're coming from, and why they do what they do the way they do. And from that point of view, I love it.
But I also have the outsider's perspective. Because since then, I've confessedly outgrew and left behind my dogmatic approach at hip-hop culture  and all that narrow-minded purist b-boy mentality. I think DJing, and particularly DJing professionally, for mixed crowds, made me appreciate hip-hop in a completely different way. While before I was more focused on the message-centered hip-hop for the head, I nowadays look mainly for the funky catchy beats that can move a crowd and that can be specially enjoyed by people who don't necessarily understand the language those rhymes has been written on, and the stuff that aims to take hip-hop into the next step of the evolution by mixing it with other genres, rather than sticking to the classic boom-bap formula. And that's where this album, as all the other previous releases of Sudamétrica, would fail.
However, saying that they fail is rather unfair, because, by no accounts it was their purpose when recording this to make anybody dance or reach foreign language crowds. These guys have a well established base of loyal followers who dig this type of conscious hip-hop, who are still idealizing the 90's Wu-Tang sound and aesthetics and never got on all the post-50 Cent, post-Kanye new school crap. So they don't need anybody else, they're content preaching to the choir. And maybe if I was still down there, I'd still be going out with them at night to bomb the city with our spray cans and I'd totally have this playing on my headphones.
I still, in fact, have my Wu-Fam play-list on my Ipod and pop it every once in a while, specially when I feel nostalgic and I have a long urban walk at night and while I listen to it I draw imaginary parallels where Mustafá is sort of the RZA of that posse and Armamentales are the Killarmy (by the way, Killarmy where my favorite of all the Wu affiliates). But then I come back to reality, my surrounding reality at least, and I realize that nobody cares about those cats anymore. The days of doing those long-ass cryptic verses with virtually no hooks over gloomy down-tempo stripped down dirty beats are over. The new generation doesn't get it and the old generation is only interested in the stuff that came out back then for nostalgic value, but not willing to keep supporting what those artists are doing nowadays (that's why you have super-talented rappers like GZA doing tours of "only Liquid Swords" songs and bullshit like that, sad). But apparently that doesn't happen back in Argentina, where, thanks to people like Mustafá and his acolytes, that style is more the rule than the exception. That seed that I was partly instrumental in planting back then, is still growing strong.

Album currently available internationally only on bandcamp. Itunes and other digital vendors available soon.

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